Emmanuel Van der Auwera: Exhibitions in Paris

31 - 31 July 2021
  • Emmanuel Van der Auwera (b. 1982, Belgium) was educated in France, culminating in audiovisual studies at Le Fresnoy, before returning to Belgium for the HISK. Well-known in Belgium for his films, videosculptures, and Mementos, Van der Auwera has also shown internationally in institutions such as the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, and the Dallas Museum of Art. His first mid-career retrospective is during the summer of 2022 at the Haus der elektronischen Künste, Basel. Questioning the status of the image and our role in the creation and propogation of visual media, Van der Auwera forces us to take a second look at how we are influenced by the carefully-crafted images which surround us. 


    In anticipation of Van der Auwera's participation in the Biennale Némo and the Biennale de l'Image Tangible, both in Paris during autumn 2021, we are pleased to present the works on view in the larger context of the artist's practice.


  • Van der Auwera’s works demand critical engagement with both distant horror and mediated intimacy. He expects and encourages skepticism, even...

    Van der Auwera’s works demand critical engagement with both distant horror and mediated intimacy. He expects and encourages skepticism, even refutation, of the loaded images we engage with on a daily basis. Simultaneously his practice brings into focus our dependency on that documentation as a stand-in for memorialization.


    — Justine Ludwig, Executive Director, Creative Time

  • VideoSculpture XX (The World's 6th Sense)

    2019, 6 LCD screens, polarization filter, plexiglass, 10 tripods, cables, HD video, 13 mins 34 secs

    The installation deconstructs the concept of visibility, putting the viewer in an uncomfortable position between a world transformed into an unstoppable flux of images and the necessity of critically questioning it.


    - Aurelien Le Genissel, On Psychotic Images and Other Visual Symptoms, Mousse Magazine

    Advertised as the world’s ‘sixth sense,’ thermal imaging offers precise surveillance for a range of uses – firefighting, navigation, safety and law enforcement, pest control, and medical diagnostics. Used for field demonstrations filmed to market the latest technology to military contractors, the footage in VideoSculpture XX (The World’s 6th Sense) flaunts a thermographic camera’s skills at capturing detail and range – yet paints a phantasmal portrait of the Las Vegas Strip, drained of its color and camp. Van der Auwera’s VideoSculpture XX emerges as both an image and image-hunter, surveying from the sniper tower. 


    This work was shown in the exhibition Au-delà du réel? at CENT-QUATRE during the Biennale Némo from October 9, 2021 to January 9, 2022. The piece was previously shown at the First Jinan International Biennial in Shandong, China (2020), at the WIELS Centre for Contemporary Art, Brussels, Belgium (2019) and at 214 Projects, Dallas, USA (2019). An edition is in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art


  • Van der Auwera's VideoSculptures take a new position to explore the intersections of digital and physical life and how the...

    Van der Auwera's VideoSculptures take a new position to explore the intersections of digital and physical life and how the filtering of images in production, dissemination, and digestion alter both individual perception and consensual experience. Using the screen as sculptural material, these works break images out of the frame in a low-tech manner. They start with an act of destruction as the artist literally takes a knife to a screen to carve away physical layers. Unbeknown to most, these layers are filters that are adhered to every LCD screen. Without the mediation of these filters, images become impossible to see with the naked eye and white noise fills the space.


    In a second step, the removed filters are placed on tripods between the screens, which makes the images visible, but only as fragments. In this sense, the act of looking becomes a physical activity where the body and effort of the viewer are essential to seeing. One must change their position to see different angles of the story playing out before them. These sculptures create a field of view where the image appears in the horizon between the viewer and the screen, subverting the process of perception and breaking the standard suspension of disbelief to give control back to the viewer.

  • Emmanuel Van der Auwera, VideoSculpture XVI (White Noise), 2018

    VideoSculpture XVI (White Noise)

    2018, 46-inch LCD screen, polarization filter, plexiglass, tripod, cables, HD video 38 mins 13 secs, height 180 cm

    Also using surveillance imagery, although for an explicitly violent purpose, Van der Auwera's VideoSculpture XVI (White Noise) incorporates the famous footage from the Baghdad Strikes. Released on WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, the video shows people being gunned down as if in a video game. By placing the polarized dispositive in the form of a circle around the trigger, placing the spectator in the same position as the perpetrator of the attacks, implicating us in the act. 


    Watch the video of the work here

  • videosculpture XXI from Emmanuel Van der Auwera on Vimeo.

    VideoSculpture XXI (Vegas)

    2019, 2 LCD screens, polarization filter, plexiglass, 2 tripods, cables, HD video 12 mins 40 secs, 181 x 96 x 75 cm

    Created in a way which makes it impossible to see what is playing on both screens, VideoSculpture XXI (Vegas) allows the viewer to realize that they do not have all the information; that part of the story is withheld from them. Using the same imagery as VideoSculpture XX (The World's Sixth Sense), the Las Vegas strip is once again grounds to military testing, giving yet another interpretation of this over-mediatized city. 


    This work was on view from November 12 to November 21, 2021 at Atelier Basfroid, during the Biennale de l'Image Tangible. Editions are in the permanent collection of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Fundación Otazu, and the National Bank of Belgium

  • VideoSculpture XVIII (O'Hara's on Cedar St II), 2018, LCD screen, polarization filter, metal, cables, HD video 19 mins 52 secs,...

    VideoSculpture XVIII (O'Hara's on Cedar St II)

    2018, LCD screen, polarization filter, metal, cables, HD video 19 mins 52 secs, 205 x 115 cm

    O’Hara’s, an Irish pub located close to the site of the Twin Towers, has become a living memorial for fire fighters, policemen, and emergency workers, who are honoured through badges displayed proudly throughout the bar. The bar became a sanctuary for emergency workers after the fall of the towers, and every year on September 11th the streets around the pub are brimming with crowds paying tribute. Using a smartphone, Emmanuel Van der Auwera captured the ambiance of the event, slowing down the footage dramatically to give weight to each individual present. We do not ever see the pub or the events drawing the attention of the endless mass of people, just the looks of gravity on the faces of those gathered.

    Traditionally using polarized film to reveal images on a blank screen, Van der Auwera flips this process around, this time using the film to obscure the video. Here, the sheets are not fixed to the glass but loosely hung, reminiscent of construction tarps or police tape. The top layer of the screen has gashes removed, and is then draped with the black material, bandaging the monitor as if treating the collective wounds of those who came to commemorate mass loss. By masking the video, the artist allows us to see just glimpses of each persona, rendering them into archetypes rather than portraits. Without knowing the context, these people could easily be seen as actors, taking part in a pre-choreographed gathering.

  • Emmanuel Van der Auwera's films gravitate around something missing - a subject, an image, or an event in absentia. At the intersection of documentary and dramaturgy, he brings the real into a state of disappearance, urging us to question the image world as it begins to overlap with physical space.  In the use of new social technologies, Van der Auwera sees a reflection of archetypal impulses, from the desire to make representations of our world, to our fascination with cruelty, the performative nature of tragedy, and, ultimately, the human quest for immortality.


    - Caroline Dumalin

  • Emmanuel Van der Auwera, Wake me up at 4:20, 2017

    Wake me up at 4:20

    2017, Mirror screen, HD video 12 mins 22 secs, 121 x 68 cm

    In addition to VideoSculpture XXI (Vegas), Van der Auwera also presented a film during the Biennale de l'Image Tangible. This early work, Wake Me Up at 4:20 (2017), is exemplary of the artist's tendency to work as a digital anthropologist, collecting information about internet communities that represent often-hidden sides of human behaviour. 


    This video installation uses novel imaging technologies to explore the use of avatars, identity politics and recent internet trends dealing with youtube celebrities and suicide memes. The work was developed following a residency at the Brain and Emotion Laboratory (University of Maastricht) and builds on Van der Auwera's previous films and installations.

  • Through an assemblage of contrasting self-presentations, Van der Auwera reveals mechanisms by which social media transforms how we apprehend and grieve, or don’t, a sort of violence that is nearing ubiquity.


    - Amanda Saroff, Emmanuel Van der Auwera, Artforum

    Van der Auwera is showing more VideoSculptures and films in his solo exhibition at the Haus der elektronischen Künste in Basel from May to August 2022. While some works are created for the occasion, he is presenting important pieces from the past years, including the installation version of his film The Sky is on Fire, which was the object of a solo exhibition at the Botanique museum in Brussels in 2019. While the film can be viewed on a screen, it also exists splayed across three LED walls, as seen below. 

  • Hear more about Van der Auwera's practice and view of the world directly from the artist during the Nasher Prize Dialogue "Disembodied Intimacy - Digitally Communicating Art, Caregiving, and Sex", which took place in October 2020. 

  • You can also order the artist's first monograph Emmanuel Van der Auwera: A Certain Amount of Clarity. The book is...

    You can also order the artist's first monograph Emmanuel Van der Auwera: A Certain Amount of Clarity. The book is published by Yale and Mercator. It is edited by Harlan Levey and Amanda Sarroff with contributions by Justine Ludwig, Caroline Dumalin, Hans de Wolf and Ive Stevenheydens.